A Journey Back in Time

StoneChristina here. I should have been in Norway right now on a research holiday, but for obvious reasons I’ve had to postpone. It’s a shame, as I was really looking forward to exploring that country, but hopefully I will get there next year. I had planned to tell you all about my journey too – hopefully with lots of wonderful photos – but I will have to take you along on last year’s trip to Denmark instead. As we’re all stuck at home, I hope you’ll enjoy a little bit of armchair travel!

For an author, seeing or experiencing things first hand is always the best way of doing research, and it’s a great excuse for going places. Of course it’s not always possible to find exactly what you need, especially when like me you’re writing about Viking times, but there are ways and means. With the whole of Scandinavia steeped in Viking history, one can definitely get a feel for the setting as a whole. And fortunately there are also quite a few museums where the curators have tried to recreate the past to really give visitors a taste of what it was like a thousand years ago. Two of the best ones are in Denmark and I came up with the idea of taking my mother (who lives in Sweden) on a little road trip, thereby killing two birds with one stone – she would get a mini holiday and I’d get to do some vital research while spending quality time with her!

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What We’re Reading in May

Pat here with May’s collection of favorite reads. Some of us are apparently hunkered down in this enforced isolation and have read entire libraries. And then there’s Jo Bourne:

Jo B:

What people think Romance Writers read: Love's Inventive Gymnastics.

Daily lifeWhat Romance Writers Actually Read: Essays in Social History, Volume I: The Preindustrial Millennia and The ZTE Cell Phone User's Guide.

We read this stuff because we are nerds and cannot safely be turned loose in a library. Preindustrial Millenia is an interesting look at the economics of Greek and Roman slavery versus peasantry. I come away renewed in my determination to avoid being the bottom rung of the social ladder in the Classical period. Essays in social

Another ladder I would probably avoid any rung of is Revolutionary France, but it's still a joy to pick up Daily Life in the French Revolution by Jean Robiquet, which is full of pithy wisdom and quotes from original material. I am a sucker for "Daily Life in …" books altogether. Just skip the politics and battlefields and tell me how they got the clothes washed. I'd recommend picking up Robiquet second hand since it hasn't been put in ebook or even paperback.

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Word Wench Anniversary Ball

Compiled by Mary Jo

IMG_5265This year, we're holding a ball!  Each Wench will bring one of her favorite heroes. (Not the favorite, because how can one choose just one from among so many fabulous men?  <G>)  

I'm wearing the burgundy velvet gown I was married in, but I'm not the star of this occasion!  That would be Lord Ross Carlisle, hero of one of my earlier books, Silk and Secrets, second in my Silk Trilogy.  Though by nature he's rather reserved and scholarly, he's also deeply interested in all kinds of people and distant places.  Which is why he became one of those amazingly intrepid early Victorian explorers who crossed mountains and deserts and dared all kinds of dangers to explore the mysteries of the unknown. 

Ross was on his last expedition to Central Asia when he discovered his beloved, long estranged wife Juliet Cameron.  Together they risk the lethal journey to Bokhara in hopes of rescuing her brother–and in the process they discover each other again.  Ross and Juliet are generally inseparable, but she's starting the evening by IMG_0141joining a group of other wives in the library where they can sip brandy and claret and catch up on each other's news. 

I've now published Silk and Secrets as an e-book and later this year there will be an audio edition narrated by Siobhan Waring.  I chose this illustration from the NAL first edition because it's one of my all time favorite covers  and Ross and Juliet both look so gorgeous,  They are also dancing, though not anything you'd see in an English ballroom!  Ross, endlessly interested in all kinds of people, is looking forward to meeting the tribe of Wenches and our companions!



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All Things Japanese

Red uchikakeChristina here and for today’s post I’m going Japanese! As you may have seen from Anne’s introduction of me (here), I was lucky enough to live in Japan for several years and I fell in love with everything about that country, including its beautiful traditional garments. So when the Victoria & Albert Museum in London put on an exhibition of kimono earlier this year, I just had to go and see it! It was glorious and as we’re now all stuck at home, I thought I’d give you a little taste of what was on display and tell you about these very special robes which featured in one of my very first novels, The Scarlet Kimono.

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Welcome to the New Wench

Anne here, and today I'm delighted to introduce you to our newest wench — Christina Courtenay. RNAteaChristina&Susanna copy

Christina is an award-winning, bestselling author of sweeping historical romances, regencies, time slip/time travel novels, and young adult novels, among others. She has won several awards, twice winning the RoNA for Best Historical Romantic Novel with Highland Storms (2012) and The Gilded Fan (2014), and won the Big Red Reads Historical Fiction Award with The Scarlet Kimono.

She also chaired the RNA (Romantic Novelists Association) in the UK from 2013-2015. (Read an interview here.) Naturally she is friends with wench Nicola, but she's also very good friends with our departing wench, Susanna. Here's a photo of the two of them together at an RNA event some years ago.

2book-cover-trade-windsI first came across Christina's books five years ago, when Nicola mentioned one of her books, saying that it was set partly in Asia, something that always interests me. I bought Trade Winds, read it, and immediately glommed the rest of her backlist. I loved her big sweeping stories where Scottish and Swedish people found love and adventure in Japan and other parts of Asia.

Christina: Thank you Anne, so glad you enjoyed them, and I’m hugely honoured to have been asked to join the Word Wenches! I have been a fan ever since Susanna first told me to seek out this blog many years ago (thank you, Susanna, great advice!) so to actually be a part of it is just amazing.

Anne: Christina, you had something of an adventurous youth yourself; born in England, raised in Sweden and then, when you were sixteen, your family moved to Japan. What was that like?

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